This post is not going to be an analytical gem. It is not going to be some biting analysis about what happened in a game. It is certainly not a journalistic endeavor. Okay, you might be saying, "So what else is new?" Yes, I know. I've been writing about baseball on the Internet for twelve years. Let's be real. Nobody has ever called me a journalist or an analyst. After all, my Twitter handle has always been, "@FlagrantFan." No, this post is none of those things you can hang a shingle on. This is a post of a one-man celebration of an event that has never happened before. The Yankees struck out David Ortiz swinging four times in four at bats. That, friends, was a sweet Golden Sombrero.
Oh, the Yankees have struck out David Ortiz four times in a game before. It happened twice before it happened last night. The first time was on May 24, 2006. Randy Johnson started the game for the Yankees and got Ortiz swinging in the first. Johnson then got Ortiz to ground out before striking Ortiz out looking. Later in the game (which the Yankees won), Mike Myers struck Ortiz out swinging and Kyle Farnsworth struck Ortiz out looking.
The other game took place on April 24, 2009. Joba Chamberlain started for the Yankees and in three plate appearances against Chamberlain, Ortiz struck out swinging once, struck out looking the second time and singled his third try. Ortiz then flew out when facing Phil Coke. This was a game where Mariano Rivera blew a save on a ninth inning, two-run homer to Jason Bay. Damaso Marte then gave up a walk off homer to Kevin Youkilis in the eleventh. Rivera had struck out Oriz swinging in the ninth and Marte had struck Ortiz out swinging in the eleventh...just before the walk off homer.
Both of those games occurred in Fenway Park in Boston and in each game, Ortiz had put at least one ball in play and at least one of the strikeouts were looking. Last night also occurred at Fenway, but the difference was that Ortiz never put a ball in play and struck out swinging all four times.
Why is this such a moment of celebration for me? Well, there are myriad reasons. Here are just a few:
I don't like him.
While I respect David Ortiz greatly, I really can't stand the guy. Why? Because of his arrogant body language, his "there are two I's in Team" attitude, his big moment in lifting up Boston after the bombing with a king-sized swear word...that's just a few. And because he is the visible face of the Yankees - Red Sox rivalry.
He has killed the Yankees for years.
Last night was the 221st game David Ortiz has played against the Yankees. Before last night, the Yankees have seen him come to the plate 964 times, good for 818 at bats. In those 221 games, Ortiz has compiled 250 hits, 117 of them were for extra bases including 47 homers. Ortiz's triple-slash line against the Yankees is .306/395/.565. Ouch. The Yankees have walked him 13.3% of the time. The Yankees have struck him out in 19% of his at bats.
It broke the Yankees' usual approach to facing Ortiz.
I have seen probably 75% of Ortiz's plate appearances against the Yankees. Too many of them are similar. The Yankees get ahead in the count and then start nibbling. The next thing you know, the count is 3-2 and the end results are either a walk, a big hit or a strikeout. Very few Yankee pitchers have had the temerity to get ahead of him and keep going after him. Michael Pineda did it three times and Dellin Betances did it the fourth time.
It is fun to watch him skulk back to the dugout.
Well...call it petty and small-minded. But it is! And he did it four times!
When it is all said and done, I will probably support David Ortiz for the Hall of Fame. I don't care about steroids or PEDs. Was he a force in his generation? For sure. Was he amazing in his three World Series appearances, Yes, he was. Has he had a ton of big moments in big games, many of them against the Yankees? Yup. But for one sweet night, the Yankees, for the first time ever, did not let David Ortiz put a ball in play for four out of four appearances and gave him a swinging Golden Sombrero. I'll take that moment with me for a long time.